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Giant current ripples in the Kuray Basin, Altai, Russia

Historically, diluvium was a term in geology for superficial deposits formed by flood-like operations of water, and so contrasted with alluvium or alluvial deposits formed by slow and steady aqueous agencies. The term was formerly given to the boulder clay deposits, which some early geologists supposed had been caused by the Noachian deluge, a concept known as flood geology or diluvialism.[1]

Diluvial terraces in Central Altay Mountains, Katun River, Little Yaloman Village. July 2011

In the late 20th century Russian geologist Alexei Rudoy proposed the term "diluvium" for description of deposits created as a result of catastrophic outbursts of Pleistocene giant glacier-dammed lakes in intermontane basins of the Altai.[2] The largest of these lakes, Chuya and Kuray, had volumes of water in hundreds of cubic kilometers, and their discharge in peak hydrograph flow rate exceeded the maximum rates of the well-known Pleistocene Lake Missoula floods in North America. The term "diluvium" in the meaning of A. N. Rudoy has become accepted, and the process of diluvial morpholithogenesis can be found in modern textbooks.

Flood deposits of the Altai region[edit]

Nearly all intermountain depressions in southern Siberia and northern Mongolia hosted glacier-dammed lakes during the Pleistocene ice ages. Climatic changes and hydrostatic alterations of the ice dams were followed by repeated fillings and releases of the basin lakes. The lake outbursts had a cataclysmic character. In accordance with climatic conditions, the glaciers would protrude again into the main drainage valleys immediately after dam deformations and lake outbursts and would again dam the basins.

See also[edit]

  • Alluvium – Loose soil or sediment that is eroded and redeposited in a non-marine setting
  • Altai flood – The cataclysmic floods that swept along the Katun River in the Altai Republic at the end of the last ice age
  • Channeled Scablands – Landscape in eastern Washington, USA scoured by cataclysmic floods during the Pleistocene epoch
  • Colluvium
  • Eluvium
  • Giant current ripples – Depositional forms in diluvial plain and mountain scablands
  • Illuvium


  1. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Diluvium" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 8 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 273.
  2. ^ Lee, Keenan, 2004, The Altai Flood